I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues

Every once in a while, the ever repeating Twitter wheel spins to love, and the ways we see, feel, and give it. The questions run the gamut, but one of my favorites by far is “what color is your love?” Now, most people see red, and rightly so. It’s only natural to see love as the color of hearts, of fire, of passion and blood — the color of life or death. But love gives me a glimpse into joy, and my joy is always blue. Because it’s my favorite color. It’s as light as cornflower and as dark as navy, sometimes soaring and sweeping, sometimes stormy and scary. Sometimes as subtle as the difference between royal and cerulean — but always blue. My joy is always blue. But lately I’ve been forced to see my pain as blue too.

One of my favorite movie characters ever, and quintessential It Girl Holly Go Lightly, called her depressive episodes the “mean reds.” Living her life in a frenzy, she sprinted from one superficial good time to another, never stopping for fear that the pain would catch up. And when it did she was resentful, annoyed, frustrated at her inability to shake it off and run away. And in that frustration, she usually lashed out, hence the “mean reds.” I don’t think my low points are red. While I can identify with the need to keep moving to avoid pain, and frustration at the inability to get past it, my low points make me want to burrow deeper, not lash out. I want to disappear underneath, like the mass of an iceberg hidden in the blue of the ocean. My pain is blue. Sitting at a low point in your life makes you think of things. All of the things. And I’m realizing that the sheer will to battle loss and risk love and lean into trust when both the actual world and your personal world are falling apart is a miracle. And performing it when you don’t feel it is the most exhausting thing you’ll ever do. The weariness hovers over you like a blanket. And for me, it’s always blue. My pain is blue.

Unlike my pain, my grief is colorless, because I never let myself see it. The devastation and the lows, the setbacks and the letdowns — even with all that has happened, I still don’t grieve. I only cry when I’m forced to, when I’m so overwhelmed it’s embarrassingly noticeable. I don’t lament my lost faith, my shredded safety net, my torn belief in all the people I thought would have my back like I had theirs. I feel the pain; I don’t grieve the loss. I’ve lost three homes and three jobs in the last six years. I’ve lost my sense of home, my peace, my optimism, my love, my pride, and everything I built that had me feeling like I was ready for the next phase of my life. I lost my confidence. And I’ve been too busy trying to rebuild it to mourn it. My grief is the unknown, the heaviest of blues, swathed in purple, sliding into black. Grief is darkness. And maybe I’m afraid I won’t make it out. And being afraid is its own kind of pain. And like the others, it’s blue. Behind my eyes, through my fingers, it’s slate and sapphire, it topples into teal. But it’s always blue. Maybe because it’s the antithesis of joy. And my joy is always blue too.

I find myself wondering what shade of blue my joy is now, and when I’ll see it again. Is it the punch of cobalt? The fast pace of Carolina? The quiet luxuriousness of Tiffany’s? Maybe the iconic store can help me like it helped Holly. Maybe my next, real life moment of joy will look like a box in those familiar colors… maybe they’ll be something sparkling inside.


Writer. Fat Girl. Whiskey Lover. Hip-Hop Head. Creator. Magical Being.

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Shameka Erby

Writer. Fat Girl. Whiskey Lover. Hip-Hop Head. Creator. Magical Being.